Short Notes: Death of a Sardine by Joan Fleming (1963)

Having taken his final exams at Oxford, Tom Warrington leaves for Portugal where his father, Brigadier Warrington, has set-up an opulent villa. Accompanying him is Oxford-mate, Meeth, a rather shabby and down-at-heels young man who arouses Tom’s pity. Tom and his father share an uncomfortable relationship which is further accentuated when Tom reaches Portugal and finds his father enamoured of a young gold-digger called Irma, the latest in a series of unfortunate women his father has selected after his divorce from Tom’s mother. Needless to add Irma and Tom do not hit-off and before long there is murder.

The book is disappointing. None of the characters (except a little for the Brigadier) are sympathetic. The racist generalizations about the Portuguese are too much to take and the description of a Black Nurse left me appalled. I am sure that had I picked up this book as my first Fleming, I’d most probably not have touched her again. As it is I’d just assume that she was having a very off-day.



First Line: For the last time, Miss Watchet stood inside his room with the door slightly open behind her, as though ready to make a dive for freedom should the occasion demand it.

Publication Details: NY: Ives Washburn, 1964.

First Published: 1963

Pages: 192

Source: Open Library

Other books read of the same author: The Chill and the Kill; Miss Bones

5 thoughts on “Short Notes: Death of a Sardine by Joan Fleming (1963)

  1. It’s funny how sometimes outdated attitudes are reasonably easy to forgive or overlook, and then other times they ruin the whole experience. I’ll take your advice and avoid this one… 😀


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